Artistic Styles of the Early 20th Century 

There has been much debate within my group over the task we have been set. We were asked to produce a body of work on the story of Fifi Roberts and her part in the Spanish Civil War. 

I felt that it would be prudent to research the art styles in use during the period. Both those in vogue at the time and those most commonly used in propaganda during the war. 


Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Switzerland and in New York (circa 1915). Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logicreason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsenseirrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works] The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collagesound poetrycut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent with violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical left.

Cubism, collage and abstraction would form the basis for Dadaism. It was more than an art movement. Public gathering and demonstrations were organised under its banner. 

Francis Picabia, Dame! Illustration for the cover of the periodical Dadaphone, n. 7, Paris, March 1920

Hannah Hoch was a dadaist artist I studied briefly in college. Her work in photomontage and collage were hugely influential within the movement. Her work was a prelude to the movement and informed much of its practice. 

This particular piece was lampooning the Weiner Republic prior to WWI. 


Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in musicliterature and architecture. Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of the 20th century. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of art produced in Paris (MontmartreMontparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending through the 1920s.

We have already studied Cubism and its most famous use during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso’s Guernica is widely considered one of the greatest and most famous pieces of the 20th century for its depiction of the horrors of the massacre that inspired it. It use as a protest piece that brought international attention to the plight of the Spanish Republican. 

The intention behind Cubism is to attempt to capture the spirit of the image rather than being true to life. The raw chaos and desperation in Picasso’s Guernica is palpable. 

Other notable works include those by Georges Braque. His literally cubist art is what inspired the term ‘Cubism’ to begin with. 

Braque’s 1909 piece, la guitare la mandore

It’s clear how this style of work could have inspired the coining of the term ‘Cubism’. The guitar seems to be subtly escaping from the image, it is a mere suggestion rather than a bold image. 

This artistic expression could be a style to explore  when creating my body of work. I have always created quite literally art that attempts to capture reality and I feel that employing such abstract methods would help me expand my creative process. 


Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s